2010-02-18 / Community

Cliff Moore retiring from Oak Park

Leslie Heilbron named new asst. superintendent
By Sophia Fischer sfischer@theacorn.com

Cliff Moore Cliff Moore Several high level staff changes will take place in the Oak Park Unified School District at the end of this school year.

Cliff Moore, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources, will retire on June 30 after nearly three decades in Oak Park. He will be replaced by Dr. Leslie Heilbron, the principal of Oak Hills Elementary School. Heilbron’s promotion is effective July 1. She will oversee hiring for the district and will serve as a resource for employees.

A search has begun for a new Oak Hills principal. The district is also searching for a permanent principal for Oak Park High School. Lynn McCormack, who had retired in 2008, is serving as an interim principal.

“We’ve been fortunate to find good people, and I’m hopeful we will find a good person for the high school and for Oak Hills,” Moore said.

Superintendent Tony Knight said Moore had had a “long and distinguished tenure in Oak Park.” After June 30 Moore will work two days a week temporarily at the district office for transitional purposes, Knight said.

“It is a privilege to work with him, and I know that anyone who has had that experience will agree,” Knight said.

Heilbron has demonstrated her readiness for her new role by completing her doctorate in educational leadership in May and through participation in multiple training sessions in K-12 public school personnel, Knight said.

“Most importantly, she has demonstrated her excellence by serving as an exemplary principal of Oak Hills, where she is much loved by the staff, parents and students,” Knight said.

After joining Oak Park in 1982 Moore spent five years teaching history and coaching girls’ softball at the high school. He then became a dean and student body activities director before being appointed assistant principal. Several years later he became principal and director of alternative education at Oak View High School. After nearly five years Moore returned to Oak Park High as principal. In 2004 he was promoted to his current position.

“Every five years I made a change,” said Moore, 64. “In my way of thinking it kept me fresh.”

After 33 years in education, the first five in the Port Hueneme school district, Moore felt that it was time for a change.

He said he’s enjoyed interacting with students and parents, and the friendships made with staff.

“I feel like all of us from the late ’70s, early ’80s who were here and are still here established a foundation that really helped other people to build on,” Moore said. “We’ve hired some wonderful new teachers. I’m most proud of being a part of that.

“When you’ve invested the kind of time some of the old-timers have, you really want to leave knowing that things are in a good place,” Moore said. “When I left the high school I felt great that Lynn (McCormack) was there, and I wanted to have the same feeling when I left this position. I feel really good about Leslie. She will do a great job.”

After six years of leading Oak Hills Elementary, Heilbron says her promotion is bittersweet. She said she looks forward to working with district employees and all of the schools but will miss the children and staff at Oak Hills.

“It really is hard to leave this school,” Heilbron said. “I will miss the stories I took home to my family, the poignant things the children have said. I will really miss my staff. They’ve been so supportive, like a family. I really look forward to coming to work in the morning. This was a heavenly six years.”

Heilbron has been visiting each classroom to talk to students about why she is leaving. The children have given Heilbron suggestions for how she can do both the principal and assistant superintendent jobs. One fifthgrade class presented a book to Heilbron of their best days with her at school. Another student offered to raise funds to pay her the salary difference between her old and new jobs if she would stay on as principal.

“I told the children that it’s hard to understand but I’m a person who likes challenges and this is something new and challenging,” Heilbron said. “It’s a new chapter in my life.”

The Oak Hills position was Heilbron’s first leadership role. Before coming to Oak Park, she spent 14 years as a fourth-grade teacher at Yerba Buena Elementary in Agoura Hills. In May she earned her doctorate in educational leadership from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

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